Mercedes has finalised its driver line-up for the 2019 Formula 1 season with confirmation that it has re-signed Valtteri Bottas.
The Finn’s new contract includes an option for 2020, which would take him to four years at the Silver Arrows.
The news comes 24 hours after Lewis Hamilton’s new deal was announced, and formally puts paid to any chance that Daniel Ricciardo had of defecting to Mercedes-AMG next year.
Bottas was originally called up to the factory team from customer Williams after the sensational retirement of then recently crowned world champion Nico Rosberg, and granted a second one-year contract in September last year.
His first F1 grand prix win came in last year’s Russian Grand Prix, before adding Austria and the season finale in Abu Dhabi to his tally.
While winless in 2018 so far, Bottas is upbeat about his and the team’s current level of performance.
“It is great news that I will be racing for Mercedes in 2019 and it is nice to announce it here in Hockenheim – not just the home race for Mercedes but also the circuit where I took my first ever single-seater wins back in 2007,” said the 28-year-old.
“This year, with a full winter of preparation, I have been able to make a good step forward – and I believe that there is still more to come.
“We have not been so lucky in the races this year but the team knows how I am performing, and this is a great sign of confidence in me and my driving.
“I enjoy working with the team, and also being team-mates with Lewis – we have a good relationship, honest and straightforward, and always aiming to get the right results for Mercedes.
“We have a big battle on our hands right now, so it’s good to have the future clear for everybody – it means we can have a full focus on the championship fight.
“Obviously, my goal is to keep performing at a high level – and to make it a no-brainer for the team when it comes to deciding their plans for 2020 as well.”
Team principal Toto Wolff alluded to the fractious relationship between Hamilton and Rosberg in explaining the reasons for the renewal.
“We are very pleased to extend Valtteri’s contract with Mercedes for another season at least – and to be able to confirm an unchanged driver line-up for 2019,” he said.
“Valtteri’s performances have been excellent this season and, if not for our mistakes and his misfortune, he could be leading the drivers’ championship at the moment.
“When we took the decision in favour of Valtteri for 2019, it wasn’t just about his undoubted speed and work ethic, but also a question of character.
“His relationship with the team, including Lewis, is open and trusting, without any politics at all.
“Those are the ingredients you need when you’re fighting strong rivals in both championships and they mirror the values inside the team.
“I am very excited to keep Valtteri in the team and look forward to celebrating many more successes with him.”
Bottas helped Mercedes to a fourth straight constructors’ championship last year.
He is currently fifth in the drivers’ championship, ahead of practice for the German Grand Prix from 1900 AEST tonight.